Filing for four school board seats begins Monday | news

Two people say they will run and several efforts are underway to find candidates for four seats on the Board of Trustees of Tehachapi Unified School District up for election this November. The filing period opens Monday, July 18, and will close on Aug. 12.

The school board recently completed a process to change its election method to by-trustee area voting. This means that individuals must live in an area with a seat up for election — and only other residents of that area may vote. Candidates and voters must be registered voters.

Areas 2, 4, 5 and 6 are expected to be up for election this year, although the Kern County Elections Office did not respond by the deadline for this edition to confirm it had accepted the map approved by the school board and the County Committee on School District Reorganization.

At least three efforts are underway to encourage and possibly support candidates for election to the four seats.

In May, while redistricting was underway, the Tehachapi Association of Teachers noted that its Political Action Committee was preparing for elections and working with the California Teachers Association for Funding. PAC Chair Todd Morrison could not be reached for comment prior to the deadline for this article.

At least two other groups are working to find candidates and two individuals have said they will run.

Paul Kaminski, a retired school administrator who also ran for the board in 2020, said he plans to file for the Area 6 seat next Monday. And Cassandra Sweeney, a parent of three who previously worked as a special education paraprofessional at Tehachapi High School, said she plans to file for the Area 2 seat.

Gail Purdy, who was active in the recent campaign to either keep the school board at seven members or allow the community to vote for a reduction, said she is part of a small group of individuals trying to get candidates. She said they plan to go door-to-door next week in the areas where no candidates have emerged to provide information and try to interest people in running. Anyone who would like information may contact her by email, putting “School Board” in the subject line. Her email is epurdy0046@yahoo.com.

And a loosely organized group of parents who first connected on the Facebook page “Reopen Tehachapi Schools” is trying to field candidates for the open seats. An offshoot of that group, “Tehachapi Parents for a Better School Board,” is being developed. An involved person said that parents are seeking candidates who will advocate for the community’s perspective, listen to constituents and hold the district’s administration accountable.

Three trustees on the seven-member board are not up for election this year. Tyler Napier, Tracy Kelly and Jackie Wood can remain on the board at least until their terms are up in 2024.

During the redistricting process, the board instructed demographers to create draft maps without considering the impact on incumbents’ ability to run for reelection. Because of redistricting, board president Nancy Weinstein and vice president Jeff Kermode do not live in an area with a seat up for election this year. Trustee Rick Scott previously announced that he did not intend to run for reelection.

More information, including a candidate’s guide, is available online at the Kern County Elections website, kernvote.com.

Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: claudia@claudiaelliott.net.

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